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As God loves, we love – and that includes our enemies.  

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43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:43-48

 

Friends and family can be some of the easiest people to love. Love toward them comes easy when we know they love us, but loving one’s enemy is more uncomfortable. What’s often more difficult is lifting them before the altar of God in prayer, yet this is the very thing we’re called to do. Jesus mentions the insignificance of loving those who reciprocate love compared to the complete love of God – demonstrated by loving his enemies.

As a simple example of God’s complete love, we notice how God sends both rain and sun on everyone. These two essential elements are necessary for life on planet Earth, and God supplies them for everyone regardless of whether they are ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Even more profoundly, Jesus laid himself on the cross, knowing the complete injustice of the act, and offers forgiveness to everyone through his suffering. Given the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, we’re now united with his love – which means we cannot do otherwise. As God loves, we love – and that includes our enemies.

We don’t to stop loving those who love us, but just as God loves all and lavishes his goodness without finding fault, we’re directed to love those who don’t reciprocate our love and furthermore to love those who oppose it. We’re called to pray for them! This doesn’t seem fair, but it’s merciful. As a reflective activity, listen to the song ‘Mercy’ by Matt Redman and pray for God’s mercy toward those opposing you or the people you love.

 

But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,’

– Matthew 5:44

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By Rich Obrecht

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